Being on the receiving end of bullying from a sibling can be extremely difficult to cope with. It is often dismissed by other family members as ‘sibling rivalry’ or just ‘banter’ which can make it hard to receive any support. Additionally, it often takes place in your family home – an environment which is supposed to be a ‘safe space’. It is also an environment where you spend a lot of time, so it can be hard to escape the torment.
Research from our Annual Bullying Survey revealed that 11% of young people asked, had experienced bullying at some point or another from a sibling. If you are being bullied by a sibling please do not hesitate to reach out to us here at Ditch the Label – you can speak directly with a digital mentor on The Internet’s Safe Space.
What Can I Do?
We know that lots of young people can experience bullying at some point from a sibling. A sibling is a brother or sister. Bullying between siblings is often ignored because parents may just say that it is part of growing up when siblings fight. However, this can become serious and turn into bullying.
If you are being bullied by a sibling, you can speak with a digital mentor on our online Support Community here.
Here are six things you can do if you are being bullied by a sibling:
1. Tell your parents or guardian and ask them to help you
First and foremost, confide in your parents or guardians. If you feel they are being dismissive, assure them that this is more than just sibling ‘banter’ or ‘rivalry’. Be honest with them, tell them how the bullying is negatively impacting on your life.
It may be useful to say to them you know that siblings may argue and fight a lot, but that this has now become bullying and it needs to stop. You can explain this by saying how the bullying is affecting you.
It could help for your parents to get you and your sibling together to talk about the bullying and stop it. Called a mediation, this can be scary but is often incredibly powerful; it is essentially a face-to-face conversation between you and your sibling in a controlled, equal environment.
If you find your parents/guardians unresponsive when it comes to intervening, see if their is another trusted family member who you can approach about this.
2. Talk to your sibling about the bullying
If you feel it is a safe and appropriate action to take, maybe try talking to your sibling. Remember to challenge the behaviour, not the person – instead of accusing them of being a ‘bully’, explain why their behaviour or words have caused you distress. For example, instead of saying ‘you’re upsetting me’, you could say ‘what you said/did upset me’.
It is important to remain calm here to try and avoid an argument.
3. Do not blame yourself for the bullying
Remember that it is always the person who is bullying who has the issue, not you – even if the person bullying you is related to you.
It is in no way your fault; people experience bullying not because of their sexuality, gender identity, race, appearance, disability or any other unique factor; it is because of the attitude towards the factor. The only thing possible to change is attitudes – you are perfect the way you are.
You do not have to change, the other person needs to change their attitudes and actions.
4. Try to spend time apart from your sibling
It might be difficult if you live together, but try and find a space in your home where you can have time away from your sibling. If you have separate bedrooms, lock your door and speak to your parents/guardians and siblings about why you feel the need to do this so they understand your actions and reasons.
Having space to relax, be yourself, give yourself some self-care and not experience bullying is so important to help you feel better about the situation and process what is happening.
If you are unable to implement this at home, look for local youth clubs you can join or speak to a trusted, extended family member or friend and see if you can spend more time at their house. You could also confide in a teacher, who could then speak to your parents/guardians about what you are experiencing and help find a solution.
5. Get support from others
Being bullied is a horrible experience for many, but a lot of people being bullied escape it when they go home. However, if you are being bullied in your home, then you may feel like you have no escape.
This stress can have impact on all areas of your life, including your mental wellbeing, ability to communicate with others, performance in school, self-esteem and confidence.
It is important to get support from others to help you when you are feeling low or unable to cope. This support can come from many people such as a teacher, a friend or somebody at Ditch the Label. We can help you move forward and give you a safe space to talk about this all.
We also have a really simple exercise available on our website called Stress Reprogramming which you can do either alone or with somebody else in around 30 minutes. The exercise will help you see stress differently and hopefully help you on your journey forward.
6. Look after yourself
It is important to take care of your health and mental wellbeing during this time. For example, eating a balanced diet, working out, sleeping well, relaxing and spending time with friends and family can improve your physical and mental health.
As well as finding a support system, you need to make sure you are looking out for yourself too.
Reductions in stress increase your clarity of vision, allowing you to better analyse difficult situations, which will make them much easier to deal with. We also suggest that you seek emotional and mental support from a GP, therapist or counsellor.
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